The Montauk Historical Society was handed the sacred duty of safeguarding the Lighthouse by the U. S. Coast Guard in 1989. It is our responsibility to maintain the structural integrity of this Federal Aid to Navigation so that it can continue to shine out over the waters of the Atlantic, steering seafarers safely into port and welcoming them home.
Ever since MHS took over the maintenance of the Lighthouse, we have been aware that the tower had sustained damage through its exposure to extreme weather over the centuries. In 2016, a feasibility study concluded that a complete exterior restoration needed to take place, representing the most extensive project attempted on the tower since it was enlarged in 1860.
First Phase Completed
The First Phase of the Montauk Lighthouse Restoration was completed in 2019. This phase of the restoration included repairing the metal at the top of the tower, on the catwalk and in the Lantern Room. This effectively ended the water infiltration that was responsible for so much damage to the stone and brick of the tower. Detailed photos show the process during the First Phase of Restoration.
Lantern Casts Iron Details
Paint removal, repair and preparation of intricate details were required prior to application of primer and finish paint.
Vent Ball and Roof
Old paint was removed from the vent ball and roof. Surfaces were prepared for primer and finish coats. Finally, primer and finish coats were applied to the lantern’s vent ball and roof.
Inscription A.D. 1860 in Brick
Paint removal required multiple applications of stripper to expose the brick. Look closely and you’ll see a carving, A.D. 1860, in one of the bricks to the south west of the lantern doorway catwalk access.
Historic Mortar Joint Restoration
Defective mortar joint was removed and new, historic mortar was applied. A ﬁnal application of moisture-permeable mineral paint was then applied to the restored historic brick and mortar.
PHASE II, the most extensive part of this restoration, was begun in 2020. This phase calls for stripping layers of paint and coatings from the 1796 sandstone, removing and repointing all the mortar joints, and repairing or replacing stone and brick. Challenges due to Covid-19, supply-chain issues, and inclement weather conspired against us in 2021, making it impossible to finish Phase II at that time. But work has begun anew, and we expect this phase to be completed later this year.
Where necessary, replacement stones were cut from sandstone from a quarry in Connecticut that is believed to have been the original 1796 source of sandstone to the lighthouse.
Phase III, the final phase, involves recoating the Tower with a special, breathable substance that will keep moisture from being trapped inside the walls. The optimal month to undertake recoating is June, and work on this phase is scheduled for that month in 2023.